Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Lûmé, Melbourne.
After a notably fevered lead-up that's seen moody black-and-white YouTube videos, sneak previews in other restaurants and provocative statements about filling gaps in the market and wanting to be among the best in the world, Lûmé has opened in South Melbourne in a surprisingly low-key fashion. The dining space - a sizeable two-room affair that includes an open kitchen, a Turkish marble and American oak bar, salmon-pink paint and half-mast curtains acting as room dividers - favours quirky over stylish and has a fashionably geeky awkwardness. The menu - a dégustation of 15-plus courses - is similarly oddball. Co-owners-chefs Shaun Quade and JP Fiechtner show a penchant for consciously provocative ingredients (calamari entrails, cow udder, lamb blood) and dishes designed to fool with the senses. There's clever stuff here - a dish of duck liver and quince has the quince looking like the liver and the liver looking like the quince; what appears to be baby corn on a crab, corn and dairy cow dish is actually a corn and crab custard, while the "crab" (spoiler alert) turns out to be salted, thinly sliced and blowtorched cow's udder. There's also challengingly chewy aged and dehydrated emu teamed with white soy, and a complicated chocolate dessert that's served in a cacao pod made of chocolate (pictured). As an alternative to the dégustation, there's a simpler à la carte menu that includes charcuterie, oysters and a fish stew, while the wine list from sommelier Sally Humble is a snappily assembled fun-park ride that ranges from an aged apple-cider liqueur to cloudy, funky sake. It's early days yet, but there's plenty to keep an eye on here beyond the YouTube scene-setting.
Open Thu-Sat and Mon 6pm-late, Sunday noon-4pm; Lûmé, 226 Coventry St, South Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9690 0185
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